Kevin Feige's MCU kicked off the episodic side of Phase 4 with what could arguably go on to remain Marvel's most accomplished episodic effort, WandaVision, and fans have been eagerly anticipating the reality-breaking drama's direct follow-up set to center on Agatha Harkness, Kathryn Hahn's purple-hued witch. Unfortunately, as we recently reported, Marvel made some big schedule changes, and not only was the spinoff's premiere pushed to pre-Halloween 2024, but the project now has its third official title in Agatha: Darkhold Diaries. And while it would be easy to assume that the relatively frequent name changes are worrisome, I’m wondering if there’s a deeper canonical meaning behind it all.
More specifically, I’m playfully theorizing that Agatha’s nomenclature fluidity is less an issue of Marvel execs jumping (and swapping) the gun, and more the machinations of a comic book character that was front and center for a hellscape of WandaVision speculation: the demonic shapeshifter Mephisto. Though all the conversations and questions about Mephisto were seemingly for naught when it came to Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany’s one-season series, fans quickly shifted those ideas over to Agatha’s spinoff, given its presumably more direct ties to supernatural and evil entities. (Plus, I’m still hopeful his eventual arrival will lead to WandaVision creatives confirming his influence or presence in certain moments.)
How Would This Mephisto Theory Even Start To Make Sense?
It probably wouldn’t if not for WandaVision’s seventh episode, “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” which revealed Hahn’s character was secretly the iconic Marvel witch all alo…the whole time. In keeping with the season’s classic TV motif, the A+ final sequence set Agatha up as the director and spearheader of a series showcasing Wanda’s life in Westview. Clearly, the precedent for unforeseen puppeteers was set, paving the way for an even more powerful villain to be standing behind the metaphorical curtain.
I don't necessarily think audiences will get another cutesy tongue-in-cheek reveal in which Mephisto shows off his cleverness to the tune of an instantly classic bop. In fact, I don't think it would or should be anywhere near as amusing or meta in that way. On the flipside, I'd want a Mephisto reveal to be far darker and dire for the characters involved. And considering we're talking about Darkhold Diaries here, said darkness is pretty much guaranteed.
What Could The New Title Mean?
Then again, Marvel and Disney+ may be working together to bring Mephisto's reveal into the "real world," as it were, by having the otherworldly entity be the source of Agatha's title changes. Because even though the names have maintained their alliterative nature, each has been that much more serious than the one before.
Agatha: House of Harkness - A solid, though vague, title that calls back to the anthology Hammer House of Horrors and similar franchise-encompassing genre projects, as well as Marvel's own House of... titles.
Agatha: Coven of Chaos - Also solid, and slightly less middling in its scope, with Coven speaking specifically to the witchiness of it all, and Chaos hinting at more bedlam for the characters.
Agatha: Darkhold Diaries - This title now directly ties the spinoff to the final moments of WandaVision, and to the still-mysterious Book of the Damned that could bring about some major narrative shifts.
Given what took place in Doctor Strange in the Muliverse of Madness, in which seemingly all copies of the Darkhold were destroyed, the name change for Agatha could support theories that the new series will be more of a backstory about Kathryn Hahn's character through the centuries, and won't progress her character's story very far beyond when her mind was touched up at the end of WandaVision. Which makes enough sense just based on the fact that Agatha was in possession of the tome ahead of and during the series' events.
But if Agatha: Darkhold Diaries isn't predominantly a prequelized story, and does indeed center on the witch's story following her battle-of-sorts with Wanda, it will probably take a mighty powerful being to figure out a way to bring the Darkhold back into existence, or to have a version of the book that no one else was aware of. I can't readily pretend to know all the Marvel characters who would possess such power, I feel comfortable in saying Feige & Co. could find a way to give Mephisto such qualities.
Mephisto Has Already Been Rumored To Make An Appearance
The first super-promising rumor about Mephisto's impending arrival came in October 2022, when it was grain-of-salt reported that Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen would be taking on the role of the dark lord for the upcoming series Ironheart. Then, an episode of The Hot Mic with Jeff Sneider and John Rocha from March 2023 presented fans with the reported news of a Mephisto stand-alone special (a la Werewolf By Night) being filmed using sets and locations also being used for Agatha, and that he's also set for a potential appearance in Hahn's show itself.
None of that has ever been confirmed by Marvel, but the company has kept a hyper-tight lip about all things Agatha since the show was first announced. On the one hand, that falls in line with a lot of Marvel's more secrecy-driven projects. But on the other hand, the name changes possibly indicate that changes are also taking place behind the scenes, possibly to give the shapeshifting villain a larger overarching role in Phase 5 projects. And if those changes are being made by Mephisto himself, don't say I didn't tell you.
While exact dates have yet to be revealed by Marvel and other powers that be, fans with a Disney+ subscription will be able to stream Agatha: Darkhold Diaries (or whatever its next name ends up being) in early fall 2024. Feel free to rewatch WandaVision in the hopes of picking up even more threads to pick up and tie to the giant clue board in the basement.